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Bandoneon player and tango composer Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla (1921- 1992) is to Argentina what guitarist and bossa nova composer Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim (1927-1994) is to Brazil. Both men essentially defined a style of music unique to their regions, styles of music immediately identifiable and iconic. Each comes into and out of vogue periodically, always maintaining a low hum of a creative presence in world music. Piazzolla has been enjoying a recent good stretch, with his music as vital today as when he first composed "Oblivion." The Austin Piazzolla Quintet, founded and led by violinist James Anderson, has been in the forefront of the Piazzolla movement since its founding in 2009. The group's previous recording, Austin Piazzolla Quintet: Lo Que Vendra (Self Produced, 2013), met with favorable review, demonstrating the group's grasp of Piazzolla and his art.
That said, the Austin Piazzolla Quintet is not content to simply recapitulate Piazzolla's considerable and extensive oeuvre. They are also motivated to continue the evolution of the tango in the form of Nuevo Tango, expanding the language and personality of the form. The original composition, "The Devil Made Texas," hits on all creative cylinders. It is a seven-minute mini-suite that captures a certain militancy in Jonathan Geer's marching piano and violinist Anderson's insistent commands. It is outside-the-box thinking in tango, pushing the perimeter of the genre into more classical terrain. While it can be danced to, the tango becomes a performance piece with composition like this. Well-conceived and performed.
Personnel: James Anderson: violin; Mike Maddux: accordion; Jonathan Geer: piano;
Tony Rogers: cello; Pat Harris -bass.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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